The Gift of Rain by Tan Twan Eng [in Bloomsbury Review]
IF YOU READ ONE BOOK, LET IT BE THIS EPIC STUNNER! One rainy evening, an elderly gentleman finds himself opening the door to his past in the form an elderly woman who arrives bearing a gift. Although strangers, the two share a complicated past, which magnificently unfolds through this astonishing debut novel.
Half-British, half-Chinese Philip Hutton is the youngest (and only mixed-race) child of a powerful British trading family based in Malaysia. On the eve of World War II, the gorgeous islands show no hint of the devastation about to unfold, and young Hutton finds himself befriending an elegant Japanese man, Hayato Endo, who has taken residence on the tiny island across the Hutton estate – the island is also a Hutton property.
Endo begins to train Hutton in aikido, transforming the distant teen into a strong and confident young man. But nothing is as it appears, and as war – and the much-feared Japanese – finally arrive on Malaysian shores, survival will mean betrayal and redemption, and ultimately love.